BACnet Interoperability Testing Consortium
In 1993, two years before BACnet became a standard, the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Building and Fire Research Laboratory formed the BACnet Interoperability Testing Consortium. The consortium is a cooperative research and development agreement between NIST and the member companies. The objectives of the consortium are to:
Verify the technical soundness of the BACnet protocol;
Develop tools and techniques for testing BACnet devices that can be included in a future testing standard;
Assist control system manufacturers in verifying the correctness and interoperability of their BACnet implementations.
The idea was to provide an independent laboratory facility where manufacturers could work together and with NIST researchers in a cooperative environment to validate the then draft standard and to test and debug prototype products. All test results are confidential so that manufacturer are free to bring in prototype products without fear of negative publicity if problems are found. It was believed that this kind of environment would help identify problems with what was then a draft standard, help manufacturers develop BACnet products, provide valuable real-world experience conducting tests, and also help consumers who want to buy BACnet products today. Even though BACnet is now an established standard the work of the consortium continues, primarily by continuing to develop and refine testing tools and procedures that can be used to establish an industry-run BACnet certification program. The work of the consortium is closely linked to the efforts of ASHRAE SSPC 135 to create a BACnet testing standard. When a BACnet testing addendum has been adopted as an ANSI/ASHRAE standard and an industry-run certification program is in place NIST plans to disband the consortium. It's mission will have been successfully accomplished.
The members of the NIST BACnet Interoperability Testing Consortium collectively represent the dominant share of the HVAC control market in North America and a majority of the world market. Manufacturers of life-safety systems and lighting control systems are also represented. Each of these companies has agreed to develop BACnet products as one of the conditions for joining the consortium. The products being developed by member companies span the entire range of HVAC control devices including workstations, field panels and application specific controllers.
Even though the NIST consortium does not certify products and does not release test results to the public, member companies believe that consumers can benefit because they know that members companies are working together to verify interoperability of their products.
For more details about the NIST BACnet Testing Consortium contact: Steven.Bushby@nist.gov
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